We often build fortresses around our hearts and prevent ourselves from trusting others. This can cause any number of problems in relationships, and some couples even break up because of an inability to be emotionally open with each other.
Many people believe that being open and vulnerable means being submissive or weak.
In reality, it’s important to trust each other to make your relationship last. Below are some proven ways of learning to open up emotionally without overcompensating.
1. Know Your Feelings
When you know your feelings, it’s easier to identify how you’d feel in a certain situation. What are your body’s sensations? What are the feelings associated with those sensations? What are the situations or people who can make your heart hurt and your chest tight? What makes you feel down?
If you have trouble identifying your sensations and feelings, use a dictionary or do a quick Google search and write down all the words related to feelings. When you’re not aware of all those terms, you can’t know how you’ll feel when you open up emotionally.
2. Listen to Your Partner’s Feelings
Opening up emotionally with your partner takes time, especially if you’ve been in a relationship for only a short while. The important thing to remember is being open with the right person. Pay closer attention to the ways your partner reacts to certain emotions, behaviors, or feelings.
Are they emotional, too? Maybe they don’t react at all to stressful situations. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. Your partner might have trust issues and they might also have difficulty being fully open with you.
3. Talk About Your Feelings
This is probably one of the most challenging things to do in a relationship. Talk about your feelings and ask your partner how they’re feeling in certain situations. Avoid judging each other. Let your partner know how you feel in your relationship and that you want to open up.
This can be especially challenging if you’ve spent a significant amount of time alone and aren’t accustomed to sharing your thoughts and feelings.
If your partner would just laugh at you, it’s definitely a sign this person isn’t for you. If they keep listening even if you say some unpleasant words related to their behavior and emotions you experience about it, that’s a good indication that your partner might be ready to listen to your deepest emotions.
While talking about exes isn’t recommended in new relationships, there are situations when you should talk about your past pains. Not only will you show you trust your partner, but you’ll also help them understand your pain, behavior in certain situations, and your vulnerability.
Most importantly, it’s a good way to open up emotionally. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel a sense of relief once you share your past pains instead of trying to work them out yourself.
Avoid playing a victim, though. If you haven’t recovered from your past relationship yet, your partner might not believe you. Avoid punishing your partner for the mistakes that your exes made.
5. Validate Feelings
Since childhood, most of us are taught to hide many feelings. Some of us were punished for crying or telling the truth, while others were ignored when they tried to explain how they felt in certain situations.
Men often aren’t allowed to cry while women aren’t allowed to speak up. The truth is, we embrace those old-fashioned and biased beliefs and allow society to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do.
Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cry or at least you shouldn’t cry when you’re with a woman. If a woman doesn’t recognize a man’s tears, you don’t even have to try to open up emotionally. It’s critical to recognize and validate any feelings regardless of your gender identity.
6. Be 100% Honest
There’s no point in opening up emotionally when you’re not telling the truth. If you doubt your partner’s reaction, then it’s better to wait until you know. However, if you trust your partner and they support you, ensure you’re 100% honest with them.
It’s tricky and you might even feel ashamed at first. Embrace it. 100% honesty will make your relationship stronger and breed trust. When you want to open up emotionally, even a white lie can hurt your relationship, so think twice before telling it.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of Emotional Mistakes
Unlike behavioral or job mistakes, emotional mistakes negatively affect your inner world. Many people isolate themselves from the outer world in order to keep their inner world safe and sound. It may be smart on the one hand, and devastating on the other hand.
When it comes to a relationship though, emotional mistakes help partners to develop their emotional intelligence, increase intimacy, and make you feel emotionally connected. Moreover, it might help both of you grow. Couples who grow together stay together.
The act of sharing your deepest hopes, fears, and desires can seem incredibly intimidating at first, especially if you grew up in an environment where emotional honesty was not encouraged or even discouraged.
The process of opening yourself up to others is no small feat, and you shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. Give yourself, and your romantic partner, plenty of time to adjust to a renewed sense of openness.
8. Stop Playing the Blame Game
Finally, when you’re learning to open up emotionally, you should stop playing the blame game. No one is guilty for you being emotionally unavailable – neither your parents nor your ex-partner.
They might negatively affect your emotional health, but you’re the only one who can give them permission to do so. Instead of blaming others, face your fears and let them go.
Becoming open emotionally with your partner must be your choice as well. If you open up because your partner tells you so, don’t blame them for it. You always have a choice.
Learning to open up emotionally requires baby steps, time, and effort. Most importantly, it must be your own choice. If you feel pressure, let your partner know about it. Ask them to give you time. Don’t open up because of pressure.
The last thing you want to deal with is feeling guilty for opening up emotionally with the wrong person. Know who to trust in the first place.